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Cataclysm Beta: Elementary, my dear shaman


Welcome to another article by elemental shaman specialist Matt Sampson, otherwise known as Binkenstein. By day, he's a geek; by night, he's also a geek, but with spreadsheets. This post is in part a tribute to Murphy, because as soon as you write a "this is what they might do" post for the end of the week, the talent revamp drops on your doorstep.

Before I get started, I'd like to point out a few things. First off, I have this little blog on the side where I'll be writing small mathy bits, other ramblings and talking about Operation TotemSpot, the concept site that has sprung up as a result of the shaman roundtable podcast that was recorded recently. Speaking of that, Raidwarning now has the podcast up, so you can listen to Joe, Rich and myself talking about our chosen specs.

So, how about those apples talent trees, eh? I'm sure you've seen them by now (and if not, go click the link!). Obviously there are a bunch of changes, and I completely missed half of them. I also wrote that last week in preparation for my first article, but for once, the Blizzard "Soon"(TM) is sooner rather than later.

First off, the overall tree bonuses, abilities and the description: The elemental shaman is a spellcaster who harnesses the destructive forces of nature and the elements. A fairly apt, if short description. For abilities, we get two passive abilities in addition to Thunderstorm. Eye of the Storm combines the old Lightning Mastery bonus of 0.5 seconds off the cast time for Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning and Lava Burst with the normal 70% pushback resistance. We also get the 100% crit damage bonus of Elemental Fury by default.


Making an unexpected appearance at the top of the tree is an unchanged Elemental Devastation, obviously there for the Enhancement shaman to get as part of their sub-spec. Convection drops to two points for a 5/10% mana cost reduction, while Concussion gets an extra percentage point of damage, going up to 6% at three points rather than the old 5%. It's a fairly easy choice to make here, 3/3 Concussion, 2/2 Convection.

The second tier is comprised of Improved Fire Nova, Elemental Warding, Elemental Precision and Call of Flame. The first two haven't changed at all, and Call of Flame goes to a 10/20% bonus for fire totems (and fire nova) with a 5/10% bonus to Lava Burst. As expected, Elemental Precision has its standard 1/2/3% hit, with the 33/66/100% spirit to hit rating conversion. Another fairly easy choice: 3/3 Precision and 2/2 Call of Flame.

The first surprise change of the tree is Reverberation. For those that have never used it at all (which is nearly everyone), it will come as pleasant surprise to see it made a bit more useful. Just how useful it is remains to be seen, as it now reduces your shock cooldown by 0.5/1 second and is sufficiently high in the tree that it's impossible for enhancement shaman to grab it. Elemental Focus remains the same, as does Elemental Reach. The problem with this tier is that after the first three points, you're left with no obvious choices to make. The most likely answer will be either Improved Fire Nova, or my personal preference, two points in Elemental Warding. I find that there isn't too much of a demand for AoE damage when you have the other casters around, and Earthquake is now channelled so the extra cooldown reduction is probably wasted. Still, it's one of those talents you can chose to use or not.

Next up we have an unchanged Unrelenting Storm, which begs the question of exactly how mana-intensive things are going to be at 85. Still, getting spellpower, crit and MP5 from one stat isn't a bad thing. Elemental Oath and Lava Flows both remain unchanged. Of course, this time around we go 2/2 Oath and 3/3 Lava Flows.

Tier 5 is an unchanged combination of Storm, Earth and Fire Elemental Mastery and the updated Totem of Wrath. No surprises that we take all of these. The sixth tier, on the other hand, has a reworked Shamanism giving 7/14/20% additional spellpower to Lightning Bold, Chain Lightning and Lava Burst for three points. Beside it is a two-pointer Lava Surge, with the 10/20% chance to reset your Lava Burst cooldown we've seen before. Whether it is any use in PvE remains to be seen. For the moment we'll take it, and our 31-point talent of Earthquake rounds out our initial 31 points.

Moving on to the sub-specs now that they are available ... In the enhancement tree, Elemental Weapons increases Flametongue spell damage by 15/30%, and Ancestral Knowledge increases mana by 5/10/15%. Ancestral Swiftness rounds out the rest of the tree for us with a 0.5-second cast time reduction on ghost wolf (remember it can be used indoors now), as well as a 7/15% run speed bonus. This leaves three points remaining.

There are virtually no useful talents in the restoration tree for us, unless you want to reduce damage taken, improve your healing done and received or reduce your healing costs. This means you'll spend them back in elemental into Improved Fire Nova, Reverberation or Unrelenting Storm, depending on what you prefer. I plan on doing some more in-depth analysis of all the talents in the next few months, both here and on my personal blog, so keep reading!

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